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Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control

LSTU E–120 - Harvard Extension School - Spring 2010 - Tuesdays 5:30-7:30 pm EST

Berkman Center for Internet and Society - 23 Everett Street - Conference room, 2nd floor

The Internet has taken on an ever-widening role not only in the production and sharing of information, but also in the political, social, and economic processes of everyday life around the world. The Net has been heralded by many as nothing less than a means of fundamentally transforming our world into one that is more just, more democratic, and more affluent, while redrawing the boundaries of political and economic power. However, the frontierism of the early Internet provoked regulatory responses, followed by various attempts to develop collective control via emergent structure. This course asks: what now is the balance between these forces, and what, if anything, should be done? continued...

Course Information:

Assignments & Projects:




During Class (Tuesdays 5:30-7:30 pm EST)

  • Live Quicktime stream during class (open this URL in Quicktime Player):
    • rtsp://
    • The best option is generally to copy this URL into QuickTime Player
    • You can also watch via http ( This is typically not as clear.

Participating Asynchronously

  • You can add your thoughts to the Question Tool even after class is over; we will leave up the discussions from class for the entire week following. Direct URL
  • Online Office Hours with the TAs TBD


Syllabus at a glance:

Unit I: Introductions
Jan 26 Politics and Technology of Control: Introduction
Feb 2 Frameworks For Studying The Web
Unit II: Internet and The User
Feb 9 Peer Production and Collaboration (Assignment 1 due)
Feb 16 Collective Action and Decision-making
Feb 23 New Economic Models (Assignment 2 due)
Unit II: Internet, Innovation, and the Technical Layer
Mar 2 Technology, Innovation, and Internet
Mar 9 Regulating Speech Online (Assignment 3 due)
Unit III: Internet and The Legal Layer
Mar 23 Copyright in Cyberspace
Mar 30 Control and Code: Privacy Online
Unit IV: Internet, Culture, and Society
Apr 6 Internet and Democracy
Apr 13 Digital Natives and Internet Culture
Unit V: Persistent Challenges and Prospects
Apr 20 New Opportunities for Education
Apr 27 International Censorship and Filtering
May 4 Politics and Technology of Control II: Summing Up
May 11 Final Project due (no class)